Leroy comes back from heading nature’s call and opens his mouth to continue his previous dialog. Before he can say anything a black smoke seems to envelop him and when it clears he is no longer standing there. Right after the smoke clears Derek, Arvin, Boots and Clifford appear in the dimensional space.
Tinyra blinks and looks at Niobe, Eli and Brak, “this is normal?”
Eli shrugs and nods to Tinyra.
Derek waves smoke away from his face. “Regrettably so, Mistress Tinyra. We have no idea why it happens, or what causes it to.” He turns to the rest of the party. “How long was I gone and where are we?” He seems uncharacteristically irritated.
Brak- “Like an hour, tops. We’re outside the village of Vallaki. We met with Rictavio, got the book”- he proffers an enormous tome that looks super Goth- “and have learned that the woman we rescued when we got here has been taken captive by Strahd.”
“Not surprising” mutters Derek
Niobe- “And met a 20-year old version of Talon.”
Eli writes out, huge tome, hardly any of it legible.
Derek narrows his eyes at Niobe’s comment. “He is from here?”
Niobe, to Derek- “I think so. It would give him a vested interest in coming back and wrecking whoever runs the place.”
Brak reads this- “Yeah, there’s just enough in the book to be tantalizing. I’ve noted a couple of areas we should visit in Strahd’s castle. We suspect that Strahd has a habit of finding whoever Tatyana has reincarnated into and getting her killed.”
Eli writes, maybe, though he said his name was Erlan. Don’t forget what he said about his parents trying to remove a curse from him.
Brak- “Strange place to try that, in my opinion.”
Eli writes, do we want to try and head to the castle, get there at a time where we could camp the night and try to approach it during the day?
Brak- “We definitely want to approach during the day. There are some sections in the tome that give clues on what to do and not do against Strahd, although it’s not a lot. We should invest in some stakes.”
Derek “And what was the fire that we saw from Vallaki.”
Niobe- “A horde of werewolves and vampire spawn attacked the town and torched it. I would have preferred to go fight them now, but there are bigger fish to fry.”
Derek frowns “Strahd’s spawn?”
Niobe- “We don’t know. The only ones we even got close to ran for it.”
Tinyra, “If not, they probably work for him in some way.”
Derek brushes off his lapel. “If that’s so, it might behoove us to destroy some of them, so that we don’t find ourselves fighting them in the seat of their master’s power.” He looks disgruntled. “Though that might be best accomplished by my skills rather than as a group.”
Clifford shakes out his entire body, which now looks like this:
He looks a little disappointed he’s not super fluffy anymore.
Tinyra, “should you go alone?”
Clifford stares at Derek and says “Not against werewolves and vampires. I will go with you.”
Tinyra, “I can be stealthy if necessary, and help you escape also.”
Niobe- “You’re not going alone, although I am basically the opposite of stealthy anymore.”
Brak- “I don’t know why we would split up at all. If the point was to go looking for a fight, you want all the help you can get.”
Derek “The point is not to look for a fight, the point is to kill the enemy from the shadows before it knows you’re there.” He bows his head, tapping his fingers on his arm, and mutters. “...but does it count as part of the job we’re being paid to do…”
Brak- “Pay or not, you’re attempting to ambush things that can turn into vapor and see better in the dark than any of us.”
Clifford - “We can split up, you and Tinyra out front to attack from the side as they come for the rest of us.” He sticks his tongue out in a doggy-laugh. “They won’t miss my presence.”
Brak- “If the spawn and werewolves are still in town, and we head straight to the castle, that is fewer things to fight between us and Strahd, improving our chances against him. An attack on the castle will likely draw them away from town.”
Derek shrugs. “That’s fine, then. Through the woods or to the road?”
Brak- “I can dimension door most of us to the east gate of town and avoid them altogether.”
Tinyra, “I can get myself there. But can’t take anyone with me.”
Clifford is waiting for a decision while messing with the magic items assigned to him. He puts the boots on his back paws and watches them switch to dog booties. “Huh, never worn shoes before….” He also sticks a crystal on his forehead, and sets his ioun stone around his head, and polishes his red stone broach, admiring all the sparkly things he had now.
Tinyra smiles watching Clifford then turns serious looking back to the party, “I do have another problem. I have not eaten anything today.”
Clifford’s ears perk up at that. “Is it cuddle time!?!?” he says, not succeeding at sounding nonchalant.
Tinyra shrugs, “I just need a kiss, and I will use my spell to restore the damage.”
Derek sighs. “And of course the Captain is absent.”
Clifford bounds over to Tinyra, his tongue sticking out. “I’m ready for a kiss!!”
Tinyra cannot help but smile and leans forward to kiss Clifford. Just before her lips come into contact with Clifford she screams in pain and falls to her knees clutching her head.
Clifford hops back, worried that he hurt her. He gets close to the ground and crawls close. ‘Tinyra?”
Derek looks almost alarmed. “Mistress Tinyra?”
Brak starts paying attention to what’s happening again. “What happened?”
After a minute Tinyra lets go of her head and slowly stands up. Looking at the ring on her finger. “I ...I think it doesn’t like me kissing anyone else.” She lowers her head, “I a simple, selfish miss worded wish.”
Clifford looks indignant. “Doggy kisses are not against marriage rules. That ring is RUDE.”
Derek snorts “I suppose we should have expected that. Will you be able to hold on until the Captain reappears?”
Tinyra shrugs, “Probably, it is no different than you going without food. I have a spell that I might be able to use in the right circumstances.”
Niobe just lost another notch of respect for Leroy. The jerk.
Derek nods. “Very well. Would it be better if we walked, rather than expending the energy to teleport?”
Tinyra shakes her head, “It will not change anything.”
Derek “Then let us be off.”
The party starts to move through the woods towards the Castle. While traveling. Eli, Tinyra, Arvin, and Clifford notice that there appears to be no more fighting happening inside the village. It takes most of the day for the party to travel, but they get within a mile of the castle just before the sun starts to go down again.
Clifford takes anyone who is small and therefore slow moving on his back.
Brak- “Ok, time to hide again.” He manifests psychoportive shelter with room for nine (in case Leroy shows up), and ushers everyone inside.
Arvin casts Festival Feast for fun and so everyone gets a good meal
Clifford thanks Arvin profusely and leeeeeeans on her for a while.
Derek volunteers for first watch and spends most of it reading Strahd’s book, and trying to decipher the illegible parts. There are words that Derek can make out, but nothing close enough to actually make sense of anything. He gives up with a headache from eyestrain after the fourth hour.
Brak has only spent a few power points and cast no spells, and so takes the second shift. He also tries to do some reading. He runs into the same problem that Derek did.
The party is able to get through the night without any issues. Arvin hosts a Heroes Feast, to provide extra hit points and immunity to fear effects and poison. The day starts with less than a mile to the castle and can make the trip in less than an hour.
Tinyra casts Magic Weapon Greater on her spear, and Magic vestment on herself. She also partakes of the Heroes Feast even though she doesn’t need all the benefits.
Once they get to the castle, Arvin Casts Luminous Armor and Primal instinct on herself and Stoneskin on boots.
Brak’s buffs don’t last long enough to cast them 12 hours ahead of time. Oh well.
Derek hides himself and glides silently into the castle’s maw. He keeps an eye out for such handy traps as murderholes in the tunnel past the drawbridge.
Clifford uses claws of the beast and metaphysical claws (on his teeth). “Brak, are vampires weak to silver? Or some other metal?”
Brak selects the staff of power to start with, although anything that can cast disintegrate has many uses around the house.
Brak- “Weaponry needs to be both silver and magical to bypass their resistances.”
Clifford nods and concentrates. You see his teeth get a silvery metallic sheen. He grins.
Brak grins back. “I have Blood Wind prepared twice today for when we meet them as well.”
Niobe sets her equipment to Kill.
Thick, cold fog swirls in this courtyard. Sporadic flashes of lightning lance the weeping clouds overhead as thunder shakes the ground. Through the drizzle, you see torch flames fluttering on each side of the keep’s open main doors. Warm light spills out of the entrance, flooding the courtyard. High above the entrance is a round window with shards of broken glass lodged in its iron frame.
Brak- “I’m not inclined to enter via the inviting opened front door.” He attempts to recall the model of the castle from the Temple o’ Evil, looking for side entrances. Not one that he can remember.
Clifford takes up the rear, carrying Boots. He keeps one eye behind them.
Derek slips forward to the end of the tunnel through the wall, so he can see more of the courtyard.
Arvin shrinks down into a rat and follows Niobe.
Niobe moves up fairly close behind Derek, but not close enough to ruin his sneaking.
Brak- “Should we fly up to that ominous broken window up there? Anyone?”
Eli writes, we don’t know enough about the inside to go there. It could be as bad as the main entrance.
Derek steps into the courtyard. If nothing blows up or triggers a cutscene, he makes his way south along the wall to the inside corner of the courtyard. As he moves he sees a massive wall juts out to connect the outer walls of the castle with the keep. A twenty-foot-wide, twenty-foot-tall archway offers passage through the connecting wall but is blocked by a rusting iron portcullis.
Niobe stares into the well-lit, large, inviting, open doorway to see what there is.
Derek returns to the main gate, and quietly relays the information about the rusty second gate. He then sneaks north along the castle wall, to look on the other side of the keep. He sees the same thing. He returns to the group and reports this as well. “...so, we don’t have to go in by the front door. We can go around the back.”
Eli, Tinyra, Arvin, Brak, and Clifford hear the faint sound of breathing.
Brak manifests true seeing and takes a look around. Brak sees four red dragons a split second before they become visible at the same time they try to roast the part of the party standing out front.
Arvin activates her Shadow Cloak in response to the attack and teleports her almost dead self back around the corner.
Clifford snaps to huge size, dropping Boots before he does so. He then charges to the front, attempting to bite one of the dragons, using Hustle to get there. He bites one, and tries to drag it out of the sky. It crashes to the ground. Clifford tries to attack again, but is too disoriented himself.
Tinyra flies up into melee range with the green dragon and tosses her spear out to dance. She also draws her rapier, but between those she can’t actually attack anything this round.
Eli manifests a full wild chaotic surge at the Green Red Dragon. He manages to not daze himself and does normal damage. The Dragon fails it save. Which screams in pain and dies.
Derek, toasted, but unseen somehow, runs underneath and behind the dragon to the south and pulls out the bowl and flask to summon a water elemental. The huge creature appears behind the southern dragons.
The water elemental reaches up to slam the nearest dragon.
Orange Red Dragon attacks Clifford from its back on the ground and misses horribly.
Red Red Dragon attacks the water Elemental.
Blue Red Dragon also attacks the water elemental
The water elemental roars, waterily, greatly damaged, not that it’s easy to tell.
Arvin presses herself against the wall and casts Fire Resistance 30 on everyone. She also summons boots over and takes off his shrink collar, then inches down the wall a little.
Boots becomes huge and moves in such a way that he’s between Arvin and Eli and the dragons. He growls protectively.
Brak just uses a charge from the staff of power to cast magic missile at the red dragon with the orange marker.
Niobe launches herself into the air at the red dragon with the red marker. She doesn’t attempt to smite it, but does use all the other components of a Guided Missile. She rams her spear through its lower abdomen, and Fjolhaefur’s tip punches through its shoulder. The lump of lizard meat drags her down to the ground.
Clifford leaps on the orange dragon, and mauls it to death.
Tinyra, seeing that she is not needed in the killing business, swoops over to where the rat may have teleported to, and casts cure critical wounds on her. The rat squeaks in appreciation.
Eli turns to see that the blue one is all that is left and just stands by.
Derek fires two arrows at the remaining dragon, and hits it in a vital spot, but doesn’t quite kill it.
The water elemental reaches for it, but only hits it once. This brings it to the ground but not killing it.
Tinyra comes around and looks at the dragons, “does it bother anyone if I use my spell to feed on that one that is not quite dead yet?”
Niobe draws Fjolhaefur from the dead body of the one she killed. “It’s dead either way.”
Derek, sounding strained, answers “Please do.”
Tinyra moves to the dragon and casts Death Knell. Dragon fails its will save. Tinyra stands as the dragon dies, “better than nothing.”
Derek dismisses the elemental and puts away the bowl and empty flask. He pulls the staff of healing from his quiver. “If anyone capable would like to use this to heal...”
Niobe steps over quickly. “Yes, hand it here.” She uses three charges on Derek.
He straightens up, “My thanks Mistress Niobe.” He rubs the edge of his burnt jacket between his fingers. “That’ll be another trip to the tailor,” he growls.
Niobe- “Would you like more?
Derek shakes his head “No, thank you, I am fully restored.”
Clifford moves to the center of the party, still alert for more attacks, and his eyes dart to each of the party members to make sure they haven’t moved anywhere. He growls real low.
Brak- “There is no surprise to be had here, which means speed and violence are our friends.”
He manifests fly.
Arvin summons a unicorn which casts cure moderate wounds on her once, and cure light wounds 3 times after the battle is over for 52 hp total. She turns back into herself and shakes her cloak out.
“Can’t wait until I can be a dragon, then I’ll show you,” she mutters to no one in particular.
Eli manifests +4 wild surge body adjustment on himself. Manages not to daze himself.
Arvin casts Extended Mass Owl’s wisdom on the party. It will now last 32 minutes
Clifford says, still growling a bit, “Where to?”
Niobe- “We have a staff of healing, so everyone should conserve their own resources.”
Derek answers Clifford “I think to the back of the courtyard, through one of the portcullises.”
He casts a dark look at the inviting open door and heads for the south portcullis.
Clifford - “Lead the way, I’ll take the back again.”
Niobe is doing flying hops toward the south portcullis.
Brak is about 10 off the ground, flying slowly.
When he reaches the gate, Derek activates his boots of swift passage and teleports himself to the other side of the gate, and looks for a mechanism to open it. He cannot find anything that would open it on this side. He can tell it is not locked and thinks it might be able to lift it up.
callsNiobe flies over the wall, doing a Fosbury flop over the top so as to present the lowest profile target. Then she lands and watches Derek’s back.
Derek rolls his eyes at the gate. “I think this can be lifted.”
Niobe- “Oh. Silly of us.” She helps with the lifting.
Derek gets himself into lifting position. “It is always worthwhile to search for a switch.”
Brak- “Anyone taller than three feet should help.”
Eli goes to help.
Clifford scoots closer but keeps an eye on the way the group came from and the sky.
Derek, seeing that Clifford would have difficulty helping in his current shape, has an idea. He pulls out Gnarlpaw’s Amulet and passes it to Clifford through the portcullis. Clifford takes it, his head tilted in confusion.
Derek explains. “It turns a person into the wolf-man form of a werewolf. If it works for you, you might gain a two legged form. It would be easier for you to help lift the gate that way. Try it, see if it does anything.”
Clifford uses Far Hand to take off his collar, and puts on the amulet. He tries activating it, and turns into an 18 foot tall werewolf lord. He stands up and looks down at everyone. “Whoa, two legs are weird.” He kneels down to help with lifting the gate.
Gnarlpaw Amulet for refresher:
Anyone wearing this talisman gains the ability to transform into Gnarlpaw as a full-round action, choosing either his dire wolf or his hybrid form (use the Werewolf Lord statistics in the lycanthrope entry of the Monster Manual as a base). While in one of these two forms, the wearer of this talisman gains the use of all of Gnarlpaw s special qualities, special attacks, feats, and skills, though he may also continue to make use of his own feats and any of his own skill modifiers that are better than the werewolf lord s. Normally, a lycanthrope has a single recognizable scent, no matter what form it takes. But since the wearer actually becomes Gnarlpaw for a time, he smells like Gnarlpaw when in wolf or hybrid form, and like his humanoid self when in humanoid form. Thus, scent does not betray the wearer s identity when he is in humanoid form, the way it would a real werewolf. Every person who wears Gnarlpaw’s fang becomes exactly the same creature when the talisman is activated and thus looks and smells like Gnarlpaw. The wearer has full control over his form when wearing the talisman and can activate it or dismiss the effect whenever he chooses. Wearing Gnarlpaw’s fang does not necessitate a change of form during full moon.
Clifford bends down to go through the portcullis. He then stands up and looks around. “Much better for keeping watch!”
Tinyra, “there are lots of benefits to being able to move on two legs and have hands.”
The group proceeds to the door on the north end of this part of the
At the back of the keep, behind the towering buttresses and tall, boarded-up stained-class windows, a small garden struggles to survive. Small flowers press skyward against the gloom. A pair of large iron gates block the way to some kind of overlook.
Derek asks Brak “Is this perhaps the garden mentioned in the book?”
Brak- “I would presume so.” He flies over the gate and gets to a couple of feet above the stone path, and then heads out to the end of the overlook. He peers over, and looks around for anything that stands out. Also he gauges the distance to the bottom of the cliff.
Dark clouds overhead drizzle constantly. A flagstone avenue passes between empty outbuildings, leading to a stone-paved overlook. The overlook has a low stone wall adorned with outward-facing gargoyle carvings.
Arvin, feeling paranoid, summons a huge earth elemental and tells it to follow them underground, unseen.
A flash of lighting illuminates the dismal village of Barovia, its rooftops visible above a smothering blanket of fog one thousand feet below.
Underneath the platform on which you stand, about one hundred feet down, a stone construction protrudes from the cliff face. Three dirt-cacked windows are set into it.
Clifford puts up his hood and comments to himself “This works way better in this from to keep rain off.”
Brak flies back to the group and tells them what he saw. “I’m inclined to go look and see what’s on the other side of the windows.”
Eli writes, who all can fly? Arvin raises a hand.
Brak- “Once I get in there, I can dimension door anyone who can’t.”
Eli writes, I can fly, using a power. Clifford?
Clifford hangs his head. “Not yet.”
Derek shrugs “I could climb down, if it came to that.”